Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is a mild and short lasting viral illness commonly affecting infants and children. This disease is contagious and most common during summer and autumn. It is most commonly caused by coxsackievirus A16 or enterovirus 71, a member of the enterovirus family. No specific treatment is necessary besides symptomatic relief.
Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease usually affect children less then 10 years of age. This disease rarely occur in adults, however few cases have been reported in adults too. Both sexes are equally affected and recurrence is rare. Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease usually spreads through direct contact with saliva, mucus or feces of an infected children.
What are the symptoms of Hand Foot and Mouth Disease ?
Initially your child may have fever, headache, sore throat, loss of appetite and malaise. Immediately one or two days after fever and sore throat your child may develop painful small flat blisters in the mouth which rapidly becomes ulcerated. These sores most often arise on gums, tongue, and inner cheeks. These lesion are followed by non itchy, flat or raised, grey or red, usually oval, sometimes with blistering lesion which are most often seen on palm of hand, soles of feet and less frequenty on buttocks and genitalia. These lesion usually last for 3-7 days and resolve on its own. During its first week of infection your child is most contagious. So there is high risk of infection to other family members who has not already been infected by enterovirus that causes this disease.
Is there a treatment for Hand Foot and Mouth Disease ?
There is no any specific treatment for Hand Foot and Mouth Disease as most of the cases are mild and subsides with in a week on its own. Treatment is based on relieving the symptoms like pain and fever and to prevent further infection and complications.
Fever and pain can be treated with over the counter medications that are easily available on drug stores ( avoid aspirin in children under 10 years) . Antiseptic mouth washes and local topical anesthetic agents might be helpful to relief pain and discomfort in mouth. You can also use salt water to rinse the mouth if your child thinks commercial mouth washes are offensive. Encourage your child for more fluid intake. Many children will refused to take juices and sodas as it contain acid that causes burning pain in the mouth, So its better to offer them cold milk products. Even offering ice creams would be a good options as every child loves ice creams and it does soothe the pain and discomfort. Avoid any spicy or citrus products.
- There is no vaccine that protects against Hand Foot and Mouth Disease
- Hand, Foot and Mouth disease is contagious.
- Usually self limited disease, no treatment required, besides symptomatic relief.
- Avoid aspirin in children under 10 years.
- Infection during first trimester of pregnancy may cause spontaneous abortion or intrauterine growth retardation.
- Recurrence is rare. But it may occur again following the infection with different member of the enterovirus family